22 September 2013, 20:52

Lawmaker urges watch on US Somalis after Kenya attack

A senior US lawmaker on Sunday called for careful surveillance of the American Somali community in the wake of a deadly militant attack on a Kenyan shopping mall.

Peter King, chairman of the House of Representatives committee on counterterrorism and intelligence, said up to 20 Americans are currently members of Somalia's Shebab militia.

The Shebab claimed responsibility for Saturday's carnage in Nairobi, which left at least 59 people dead, and Kenyan forces are still besieging militants holed up in the mall.

"It's an extremely deadly organization, very well trained. And it's one of the only al-Qaeda affiliates which actually has actively recruited here in the United States," King told ABC television.

"There are at least 40 to 50 Somali-Americans who have gone from the United States to Somalia to be trained. A number of them have been killed, but there's others still alive."

King estimated that between 15 and 20 Americans are still active members of Shebab, and warned they might try to mount attacks on US soil.

"The concern would be if any of those have come back to the United States and would use those abilities here in the United States," he said.

"I would assume that the FBI and local law enforcement are looking into those Somali-American communities today and if there are any leads or indicators using all their sources and resources to make sure there's no follow-up attempt here in the United States.

"Several US citizens are known to have fought for the Shebab in recent years, although there have been tensions within the Islamist movement about whether to focus on seizing control in Somalia or on "global jihad."

Earlier this month Alabama-born Omar Hammami - better known as Al-Amriki or "the American" - was reported killed in Somalia in a gun battle with his former Shebab comrades.

Voice of Russia, AFP

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